First of all what else, exactly, do you expect me to call you? Helene is the most unsuitable name possible for you – you must be the last woman on earth who would go running off with Paris. The Greek chap, at least, being bit of a cove and all. The city (as unsuitably named as you, my dear) stands a far better chance of winning your heart.
I would tell you all about my thrilling adventures wandering around the book sellers of the Left Bank but that would scarcely interest you, would it? And while a colorful description of my journey through the less savory side of Paris would doubtlessly be entertaining, but probably not the sort of thing one should be writing to a gently-reared young lady.
Which sometimes innocents mistake you for.
According to Father’s instructions, Claude-Laurent, the gentleman he assures me is yet another one of my beloved brothers, lived somewhere with the narrow mazes of the Parisian slums. At first I suspected, by the sheer amount of it that his directions required me to walk through, that this was all a ploy for him to lure me into finally behaving as a proper Sutcourt. If I had any inclination towards doing anything of the sort, it certainly would have worked, as I was approached by all manner of nymphs, birds of paradise, bits of muslin and a few persons that defy both cant and description.
I trust your nerves remain appalling sound and you will greet the news that I was attacked twice on my way there with your usual ghoulish joy, you chit. I must disappoint you by reporting that I dealt with my moulders by the usual means and came away from both encounters unharmed.
Suffice it to say that after several harrowing hours attempting to decipher my dear Father’s directions, I reached a modest establishment on Rue G______ with my virtue, purse and hang of my coat all intact. Imagine my delight when I was ushered in out of the shabby street by a liveried footman and into a foyer that would not have been out of place in the best neighborhoods. Perhaps illusions are my mysterious brother’s specialty, it certainly would explain why I had such a damnable time finding his house.
Apparently I have survived my ordeal only to have failed my mission. Monsieur was not at home. I am enquiring as to his current whereabouts as suddenly I very much desire to make his acquaintance. You see, I have met his son.
Théophile is a most engaging brat, really the queerest, most exotic creature. It seems it is the custom of his father to leave him alone for long stretches of time, consequently he has acquired a manner of command not at all in keeping with his 14 years and the servants all stand in terrified adoration of him. His skin is ocher, his hair very closely curled and his eyes are almond-shaped (though the proper color for a Sutcourt, of course). His dear departed mother, you see, hailed from the Orient and his father, my illusive brother, he tells me is half-Moor. The child also insists on wearing the extraordinary get-ups of 50 years ago, from the high red heels of his shoes to the powdered wig on his head. It is really most diverting to be addressed by a schoolboy dressed up as though he were your grandfather.
If this is the son imagine the father!
For now I shall stay in Paris and keep this new-found nephew of mine company. While his father may think nothing of it I can not feel easy leaving a child of his age alone to his own devices. I am told he has a tutor but if they are referring to the poor creature that Théophile seems to have all in a quake I have little faith in his being able to keep the boy in check. Besides, I confess I am curious to see how the Sutcourt blood will show itself this time, in such a unique vessel.
I have another good reason to stay as well. Helene, I fear that your little barb about the order of sons, harmlessly meant, has come a little raw. I very much fear my Father has committed a frightful indiscretion. If I judge correctly, for Claude-Laurent to be this child’s father he would have to be at the very least a year older than Ralph and very possibly more. While I do not recall our Charter word for word I can remember enough to realize this may lead to a great many complications and discomforts. But what is done is done and I shall not allow myself to be blue-devilled by it. Nothing can be settled until I locate Claude-Laurent. Théophile swears most solemnly that he does not have the slightest clue where his father could be, so I have no choice but to await his return.
Your offer of aid is always appreciated and I shall make no bones of taking shameless advantage of it. Would you be so kind as ask my man of law to send me a copy of the Charter? I am sure Swifton will remember you from the last time. In the meantime, perhaps I shall return to the book-dealers and buy you a present?
Your fond cousin,
P.S. – It is petty of you to fault Ralph, my dear, when he cannot help it that he was born a Sutcourt. Besides, he is so good at finding things.
P.P.S. – You are really quite heartless. I demand you write back in your next letter telling me about how all the angelics have become pale and vaporish since my absence. Lie if you have to.
P.P.P.S. – Kindly do not lay the blame with me on this or report me to my parents but I have been reading the tea leaves again. I swear to you, Helene, it is not my fault. Théophile’s household is about as civilized as you would expect any household to be when governed by a wet-behind-the-ears babe, and this morning there was no coffee to be found anywhere in the house.
That has since been remedied and I am certain my brief glance into the future was for once quite harmless. I would counsel you though, dear child, to lay aside whatever ninny-brained scheme it is you have taken into your head to shock the tabbies and set the town talking. Though it may go very well for the first few days you will find your spirit for it sinking before too long.